Bush Calls for Easing Ban on HIV-Positive Foreigners Entering Country for Short-Term Stay; Other World AIDS Day News
President Bush Friday on World AIDS Day proposed easing a provision of U.S. law that bans HIV-positive foreigners from entering the country for visits of no more than 60 days without a special waiver, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/2). Congress in 1993 enacted legislation that prevented HIV-positive foreigners from obtaining visas or citizenship. According to the U.S. Department of State, if any foreigners traveling to the U.S., including people from countries not requiring visas, reveal that they have a "communicable disease of public health significance," they are prevented from entering the country. The same rule applies to foreigners seeking permanent residence in the U.S. (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/22). The current law allows waivers to be issued so HIV-positive people can enter the country to attend special events (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/2). Under his proposal, Bush "will direct the secretary of state to request and the secretary of homeland to initiative rule making that would propose a categorical waiver for HIV-positive people seeking to enter the United States on short-term visas" (White House fact sheet, 12/1). It is not clear whether visitors still would be required to declare their HIV status. HIV/AIDS advocates after the announcement praised Bush's decision but called for all restrictions on HIV-positive immigrants to be lifted. "It's a step away from a terribly discriminatory and inappropriate policy, but it doesn't go far enough," Physicians for Human Rights Executive Director Leonard Rubenstein said, adding, "If you want to remove stigma from AIDS, you have to go the whole distance and eliminate all restrictions on entry to the United States for people with HIV" (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/2).
World AIDS Day Protests
Twenty-two demonstrators calling for increased funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment were arrested on Friday in front of the White House after police said their permit to demonstrate had been revoked, the Washington Post reports. The demonstrators, some of whom came from Africa, also called for Congress to ease a law banning the use of government funds for needle-exchange programs and for the government to allocate funds to help train health care workers in developing countries (Levine, Washington Post, 12/2). Also on Friday, Jeanne White-Ginder, the mother of HIV/AIDS advocate Ryan White, said people living with HIV/AIDS are not receiving enough support and called for greater efforts to reduce HIV transmission in the U.S. White-Ginder also said there is a "serious problem" with the Ryan White Care Act, which has experience flat funding for the past six years, according to the Oakland Tribune. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) called on the Senate to reauthorize the act (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 12/1). In addition, Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at an HIV/AIDS summit at the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., each were scheduled to receive an HIV test to encourage others to be tested for the virus. Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) also planned to get tested (Blinkhorn, CQ HealthBeat, 12/1).
Broadcast coverage of World AIDS Day Events
Several broadcast programs reported on global efforts to fight HIV/AIDS in observance of World AIDS Day. The following are summaries of select segments:
- APM's "Marketplace Morning Report": The segment reports on the average cost of widely available HIV/AIDS treatments for an average HIV-positive person's lifespan and includes comments from David Bishai, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Paur, "Marketplace Morning Report," APM, 12/1). A transcript and audio of the segment are available online.
- CBS' "Evening News": The program includes an interview with Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Couric, "Evening News," CBS, 12/1). A transcript and video of the segment are available online.
- CBS' "Evening News": The program also examines researchers' efforts to fight HIV/AIDS over the past 25 years. The segment includes comments from David Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, and Sarah Schlesinger, research associate professor in the laboratory of cellular immunology and physiology at Rockefeller University and ADARC (Pitts, "Evening News," CBS, 12/1). Video of the segment is available online.
- NPR's "Day to Day": The program profiles Regan Hofmann, editor in chief of the monthly HIV/AIDS magazine POZ, about her experiences as an HIV-positive woman and perceptions of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. (Olkowski, "Day to Day," NPR, 12/1). Audio of the segment is available online.
- NPR's "Day to Day": The program includes an interview with Peter Biles, southern Africa correspondent for BBC, about the South African government's approach to preventing and treating HIV/AIDS (Brand, "Day to Day," NPR, 12/1). Audio of the segment is available online.
- NPR's "News & Notes": The program includes an interview with Gil Robertson, author of the book, "Not in My Family: AIDS in the African American Community," and Regina Robertson, West Coast editor for Essence magazine, about the spread of HIV among U.S. blacks (Chideya, "News & Notes," NPR, 12/1). Audio of the segment is available online.